"Sovereign Lord, you alone know"
“Who knows,” is a frustrating response to a question. Shoulder shrugs and blank eyes often emphasize the point. Usually, we are among friends or coworkers who are mutually frustrated with the bureaucracy, the government, the boss, or that one person who gets under everyone’s skin. Sometimes “who knows” is just acceptance of the uncertainties we face. We want answers, and sometimes we don’t know where to find them.
Ezekiel was in a slightly different situation. God took him to a valley of dry bones and made him walk among them to see that the bones were very dry. When God asked Ezekiel whether the bones could live, “Who knows” was obviously the wrong answer. So was a simple “yes” or “no.” The right answer was the one Ezekiel gave, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” He might have suspected that God was going to bring the bones to life. I’m sure he hoped that was the point of the vision. Ezekiel knew that God’s answers and revelation happen in God’s time, not ours.
God knows from the beginning of the vision that a miracle is about to happen. He waits for Ezekiel’s unquestioning faith. God takes it one step farther. The miracle only happens when Ezekiel prophesies God’s orders to the bones. It is through the prophet’s obedient faith that the bones are healed. By implication, it is only through Israel’s obedient faith that the nation will be healed.
As we start to reopen businesses and churches, many people have questions and concerns. Some think we are moving too fast, others that we are moving too slowly. Some question whether we will ever recover economically. Others question whether we will be able to preserve the lives of loved ones who are at risk. Others ask if this is an opportunity to rebuild in a way that addresses the many areas where our society has been broken. One temptation is to adhere to perspective or course of action without wavering or listening to others. Another temptation is to shrug our shoulders and sigh, “Who knows.”
We might be wise to remember that God has a history of bringing healing and life out of seemingly impossible situations. Our role in healing is obedient faith. We need to trust that God knows how to heal, and we need to listen to discern our role in that.
In the prophecy of the dry bones, there were two stages. First, the bones came together; then, God told Ezekiel to call breath into them. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is often represented as breath. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:6-8, NIV).
We have already seen the Holy Spirit moving in our churches in many ways. New people are attending our online worship services. Congregations are stepping forward to meet needs in the community. We are finding creative ways to be church. As we move forward, we need to discern the will of God through the leading of the Holy Spirit. That will look different for each person and congregation, but the Holy Spirit will lead us to ways of putting the pieces back together that are life-giving and renewing. We need to be like Ezekiel, trusting God, and willing to act when God’s will and way becomes clear.